City Season – Monsoon Spaces, Around Town
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
“A little tap on the window-pane, as though something had struck it, followed by a plentiful light falling sound, as of grains of sand being sprinkled from a window overhead, gradually spreading, intensifying, acquiring a regular rhythm, becoming fluid, sonorous, musical, immeasurable, universal: it was the rain.” This is Marcel Proust in In Search of Lost Time. The French novelist, whose 151st birth anniversary falls this week, never visited Delhi. But his invocation of varsharitu, a thing tackled centuries earlier in Ritusimhara by Kalidas, sounds like as if the Parisian writer did experience our city’s first monsoon baarish. Of course, from within the waterproof plumbing of some fancy DefCol barsati. Here’s monsoon-tinted views of some city spots.
1. Monsoon briefly eases the claustrophobia of GB Road. The red light’s crowded main road gets abruptly emptied. The insufficiently ventilated establishments of sex workers, inside the creaky weatherbeaten buildings, are freshened by gusts of cool breeze. From their balconies and windows, the women watch the noisy rain lash the world outside.
2. Monsoon finds an ideal tea-time company in Jane Austen, weather being a recurring plot twist in her gossip novels. With its tiny bell tower and gabled roof, the Church of Epiphany in Gurgaon (old wing) is intensely evocative of rural churches in rain-drenched England, which faithfully pop up in Austen’s comedies. The interiors are small and intimate, making it snug to watch the rain through the tall narrow lancet windows.
3. Monsoon elevates Adam Khan’s tomb into an emergency sanctuary for passersby (and dogs) speared by sudden showers. Perched atop a Mehrauli hillock, the monument overlooks the Qutub Minar, which appears totally bechara and defenceless in the heavy rain. A mithai shop, down the stairs, continues to fry tasty hot jalebis.
4. Monsoon is a painting when viewed from inside Sector 53-54 station on Gurgaon’s Rapid Metro line. The phenomenon usually unfolds in the evening as the setting sun plays luka-chuppi with wine-dark clouds. The sky is compromised into shades of pale pink, normal pink, dark pink, red, and bluish grey (see photo).
5. Monsoon turns Hauz Khas monument into an archipelago of stony islands. You rush through a warren of chambers, pavilions and airy corridors, now getting wet, now dry. The large balconies overlook a lake, with sudden winds causing the slanting ropes of falling baarish to hit you hard.
6. Monsoon is to the Tea Terrace at Triveni Art Gallery what Megh Malhar is to music ragas. They heighten our sensitivity to the rains. The al fresco destination has rows of tables overlooking a garden-amphitheater. Well-read gentry nibble on shami kebabs, as sprays of rain try to kiss their handloom saris.